Series Preview: Detroit Tigers @ Cleveland Indians
Cleveland Indians Open Home Schedule Versus Rival Tigers
Welcome to the Thunderdome!
Ok, so maybe that’s being a tad bit melodramatic, but with the stakes at play for the 2015 season and the Cleveland Indians track record with their weekend opponent, it may be more accurate than you think. You see, the Indians begin their 81 game home schedule against the one team that has owned them over the course of the past four seasons. If you haven’t been living under a rock during that period of time, you know exactly who I’m talking about.
The Detroit mother fudrucking Tigers.
Since the start of the 2011 season, the Indians have played a total of 74 games against the Tigers. In those games the Indians have a paltry record of 28 wins against 46 losses. That’s bad enough for a .378 winning percentage. The only American League team the Indians have a worse record against during that time period is the Yankees (.333 winning percentage in 27 games) and even then the have played the Yankees nearly one-third as many times as the Tigers.
Apr 8, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler (3) hits a two run single in the 3rd inning against the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Needless to say, the Tigers have been a massive problem for this most recent version of the Cleveland Indians. The Indians have been consistent contenders for the AL Central crown and their continued inability to solve the Tiger problem has played a huge role in their lack of success. And while it’s true that the games with the Tigers make up only a small percentage of the schedule, it’s hard to ignore the record and the continuous fall on their faces style in which the losses occur.
But, maybe this year is different. Maybe this is the year when the Indians finally surpass the Tigers and take the AL Central division crown. Everything appears to be lining up in the Indians favor. Gone is Max Scherzer. Justin Verlander finally appears to be breaking down. Miguel Cabrera, while still a dominant force, has begun dealing with nagging injuries. Of course, for every misguided trade and free agent loss there is a J.D. Martinez ready to pick up the slack.
While the narrative has been the same over the past three seasons, that the Tigers are ready to fall back to the pack, never before has that possibility seemed so real. It’s no secret that the Tigers are in a strange place thanks to their gutted farm system and questionable trades over the years, but that’s not the whole story. The other, more important side of the story if the ascent of the Indians.
The core of the Indians roster is experienced and just now entering their prime, Michael Brantley, Jason Kipnis, Yan Gomes, Carlos Santana, Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Cody Allen, and on and on it goes. If ever they were going to make the jump to the next level and finally give the Tigers their comeuppance, it has to be this season, right?
This weekend will be the first real test of this theory. Both the Indians and Tigers are off to great starts. The Indians will come in to today’s game with a record of 2-1 after shutting down the Astros’ offense for three straight days. The Tigers, meanwhile, beat up on the tunes and flaunt a perfect 3-0 record. With the struggles of the rest of the division perfectly clear from Opening Day, it’s likely that the winner of this series will walk out the leader of the division come Monday and in prime position heading into the second week of this 6 month marathon.
However, while it’s easy to go overboard with hyperbole and how this is “one of the most important series of the season,” I’ve even said as much for the sake of building up a dramatic scene, we have to remember that the Major League Baseball season is a glorified marathon. Regardless how this shakes out this weekend, it won’t be the end of the world for either team. There will still be plenty of time to right the ship.
However, for the sake of the psyche of both the players and fans, it’s important that the Indians put up a fight and win this series. Otherwise, they risk the possibility of a “here we go again” mindset creeping into everyone’s heads. It’s time for the Indians to rewrite the narrative and take back the division. What better time to start than on Opening Day in Cleveland?
Probable Pitching Matchups:
Zach McAllister (0-0) vs. Alfredo Simon (0-0)
T.J. House (0-0) vs. David Price (1-0)
Corey Kluber (0-1) vs. Kyle Lobstein (0-0)